Your 2019 AZL Cubs #1! (and your 2019 AZL Cubs #2, Too!!)
2019 AZL Opening Day is this coming Monday (6/17).
The AZL regular season runs through Monday 8/26, and then AZL playoffs start on the following day (Tuesday 8/27).
AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 are both in the AZL East, and they play a 56-game schedule. Because they are in the same division, the two Cubs squads will play each other four times during the course of the AZL regular season.
Because there are 21 teams in the league, not every team plays every day. In the case of the Cubs, both AZL Cubs #1 - AND - AZL Cubs #2 always play the exact same four days in a row and then both get the same fifth day off. The only exceptions are this coming Tuesday (the two Cubs teams play on Monday but then both get Tuesday off before commencing their four days on / one day off sequence on Wednesday), and all AZL team get July 9th off (the day of the MLB All-Star game), so the two Cubs teams end up getting two days in a row off (7/8 and 7/9). Otherwise, AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 play four days in a row and then get a day off every fifth day for the next ten weeks.
Unlike 2018 (the first season that the Cubs operated two AZL teams), the schedule has been set-up so that the two Cubs AZL teams will not play home games on the same day (unless they are playing each other), so all AZL Cubs home games (both AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2) will be played at Sloan Park (the Cubs' Spring Training stadium), and then Field #1 (which is the only Riverview backfield with lights certified for pro baseball and the field that was used for games last year when two AZL Cubs home games were scheduled on the same day) will be used for pre-game BP, infield practice, and baserunning drills, and "unofficial" intrasquad games and rehab or conditioning "sim" games only.
A maximum of six players presently on minor league injured lists will be assigned to roster-exempt rehab assignments with the two Cubs AZL squads at any one time (three being the maximum number of minor league players on full-season affiliates injured lists who are permitted to be assigned to any one short-season affiliate at any one time). The rehab guys will move back & forth between the two Cubs AZL squads and will usually (when possible) play in home games (assigned to whichever one of the two Cubs AZL teams is home that day). NOTE: RHP Enrique de los Rios (on Myrtle Beach 7-day IL since Opening Day) was supposed to be assigned on a roster-exempt rehab assignment with one of the Cubs AZL squads, but he was assigned on a roster-exempt rehab assignment with Eugene yesterday instead.
Because both Cubs AZL squads are based at the Cubs UAPC at Riverview Park, all players (not just rehabbers) can be moved back & forth between the AZL Cubs #1 and AZL Cubs #2 active rosters at a moments's notice, so the Opening Day roster assignments as they stand today are fluid and very much subject to change. However, the Cubs will try and keep the two rosters intact with the same players together on the same squad for the entire season as much as possible.
2019 Cubs draft picks (and NDFA) will normally be assigned initially to one of the two Cubs AZL squads. This allows the player to both get Cubs Way orientation and play in his first pro games all in one place before possibly moving up to Eugene (or maybe even to South Bend) later this summer.
At present is is not known which players presently on the two Cubs AZL rosters will begin the season on the injured list, but RHSP Willy Cabrera, RHSP Yovanny Cruz, RHSP Danis Correa, LHRP Riger Fernandez, LHSP Joel Machado, RHRP Jake Reindl, SS Miguel Pabon, and OF Ricardo Verenzuela have not been participating in "live" BP this week.
Also, most of the pitchers signed by the Cubs after being selected in the MLB First-Year Player Draft earlier this month have been assigned to the Rehab/Conditioning Throwing Program at the Mesa UAPC that will keep them from making their pro debut and pitching in games for a while.
Most of the position player signed after being drafted will be cleared to play in AZL games pretty much right away (or at least very soon).
So here are the provisional AZL Cubs ##1 and AZL Cubs #2 Opening Day rosters as of 6/15 (subject to change on a daily basis):
2019 CUBS AZL:
Carlos Chantres (Rehab Pitching Coordinator)
Tyler Pearson (Rehab Coach)
Jonathan Fierro (Rehab Athletic Trainer)
AZL CUBS #1:
37 players (including two roster-exempt REHAB players)
Josh Burgmann (2019 draft pick)
Chris Clarke (2019 draft pick)
Brad Deppermann (2019 draft pick)
* Misael Garcia
* Brandon Hughes (ex-OF)
Ryan Jensen (2019 draft pick)
Chris Kachmar (2019 draft pick)
* Bryan King (2019 draft pick)
* Conor Lillis-White (REHAB - roster-exempt)
* Brendon Little (REHAB - roster-exempt)
Alex Moore (2019 draft pick)
* Pablo Ochoa
* Luis Rodriguez
Cayne Ueckert (2019 draft pick)
* Grayson Byrd (2019 draft pick)
* Ervis Marchan
# Pedro Martinez
Jacob Olson (2019 draft pick)
* Bryce Windham (2019 draft pick)
* Albert Hinirio
Nelson Maldonado (2019 draft pick)
* Ezequiel Pagan
Zac Taylor (2019 draft pick)
Yasiel Balaguert (Assistant Coach)
Chase Spivey (Hitting Coach)
Anderson Taveras (Pitching Coach)
STRENGTH & CONDITIOING COACH:
AZL CUBS #2:
33 players (including two roster-exempt REHAB players)
Matteo Bocchi (2019 NDFA)
Tanner Dalton (2019 draft pick)
* Riger Fernandez
Jamie Galazin (ex-OF)
Jose Miguel Gonzalez
Chad Hockin (REHAB - roster exempt)
* D. J. Herz (2019 draft pick)
* Joel Machado
* Josh Sawyer
* Luis Silva
Orian Nunez (ex-INF)
* Rochest Cruz
# Josue Huma
* Abraham Rodriguez
# Jose Gutierrez (REHAB - roster-exempt)
* Darius Hill (2019 draft pick)
* Ricardo Verenzuela
Claudio Almonte (Hitting Coach)
Manny Olivera (Pitching Coach)
Chris Pieters (Assistant Coach)
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING COACH:
bradsbeard 1 hour 7 min ago (view)
Happ has been an above average hitter every season he's been in the majors, and he killed it in his brief return from the minors last year (with better contact and lower K rates to boot). Aside from an extended period with the lower K rates, what else are you not seeing?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 hour 21 min ago (view)
Bote, for the moment, is adequate. Very unsold on the 2 LH hitting 2B options.
I have never seen it for Happ. I'd love for him to prove me wrong but I dont see it happening.
crunch 2 hours 14 min ago (view)
someone else may have noticed or written something about a possible issue with lefties last year (aside from the obvious disappointing numbers), but i didn't see anything that made him look lost vs them.
myself, i'm not expecting the hard time vs lefties to keep happening (though i can't point to why 2019 wasn't good for him and i may be missing something). also, how well he handled righties has me a bit pumped about his future.
bradsbeard 2 hours 31 min ago (view)
I think it was likely just a small sample size luxuation against LHP last year. His splits were essentially swapped from 2018 to 2019. For his career he's been a little above average against both sides, or essentially no significant split. I'd expect him to hit LHP better than RHP going forward though.
Eric S 2 hours 42 min ago (view)
I'd like to see Bote not get owned by lefties. Not sure what it is about his stroke that's hurting him - struggles against offspeed in general?
crunch 3 hours 15 min ago (view)
huge bote fan over here, and i think he's one of the best longterm investments the cubs have gambled on. cubs have control over him through 2026 if they exercise both his options (both 7.6m).
i'd like to see him penciled in as the main regular at 2nd, but overall i just wanna see him play more than he was late last year when he was red hot. if bryant flames out with the glove at 3rd (clock is ticking on that) we might see bote at 3rd a bit.
Eric S 3 hours 21 min ago (view)
Hopefully KB has worked on his base sliding technique - believe he jacked his knee up last year because of some rough "landings" on the basepaths. He definitely should shine in the role - and provided KB is not traded - Cubs can only go up from their leadoff hitter ranking from last year.
Charlie 3 hours 58 min ago (view)
Bote was a little better than league average with the bat last year and Happ has never been worse than league average with the bat over a full season in the majors. Not too bad at the end of your lineup (though neither is helping out too much on defense). Heyward could end up the #8 if things break OK for Bote and Happ at the plate.
Dolorous Jon Lester 4 hours 24 min ago (view)
That would be a hell of a 1-5. The problem comes from 6-8 being a combination of Heyward, Bote/ Kipnis/ Descalso, and Happ/ Almora.
crunch 8 hours 19 min ago (view)
that should be good for 175Ks, 30 homers, 30 doubles, 60-70 RBI...
wonder who the #2 they're looking at...hopefully rizzo and not heyward.
bryant/rizzo/baez/schwarber/contreras would be a hell of a 1-5.
Rob Richardson 10 hours 19 min ago (view)
Per Bruce Levine, Kris Bryant will be leading off for the Cubs.
crunch 10 hours 55 min ago (view)
"Kris Bryant expects to remain with the Cubs in 2020 after a sit-down with team president Theo Epstein.
"Everything went great," Bryant told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "It was the best meeting I had with a superior. He just gave me insight as to what kind of happened in the offseason." The star third baseman did later add that Epstein gave him no assurances that he will be kept in the loop if further trade talks were to arise, before stating, "I’m a Chicago Cub.""
Dolorous Jon Lester 11 hours 32 min ago (view)
That would be so devious!
tim815 13 hours 1 min ago (view)
Owners might not want to spend the extra coin. Which would be about like a dime to us.
Nice on the Cubs for upping MiLB pay.
jdrnym 1 day 49 min ago (view)
AZPHIL, has there been official word as to whether the 26-man roster has been extended down to the minor league levels that previously had 25-man rosters? Can't really think of a reason why that shouldn't be the case...
Arizona Phil 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
Another possibility for a "26th man" in 2020 would be a young pitcher selected in the Rule 5 Draft who has big league upside but who is clearly not yet "big league ready," or a pitcher who is out of minor league options who might not be quite MLB ready.